The Consul at Benghazi (More) to the Department of State1
12. From Villard at Cyrene August 5. During my first call on PriMin at his summer headquarters Aug 5, I inquired what was status of our base agreement. Muntasser replied that agreement would not be introduced at current session of Parliament. Owing to oppresssive heat in Tripoli and consequent effect on disposition of deputies to consider important matters, decision was taken to adjourn Parliament upon completion of discussion on budget. Probable date for starting next session is October 10 at which time it is hoped King may be persuaded to visit Tripoli and open session in person.[Page 545]
Muntasser continues to maintain that ground must be carefully prepared before debate on agreement begins. He says whole question of foreign agreements is delicate one but that in case of US there is no doubt that agreement will be approved in principle. Sole difficulty is financial. By this I infer he is still thinking of additional payment over and above $1 million per annum in return for what Libya considers its most valuable asset, namely the strategic position of its territory in the Mediterranean.
While I am not attempting to enter into any further arguments on this subj at this particular time, since we are not yet confronted officially with demand for increased compensation, I think we must eventually be prepared to meet Parl opposition on this ground. It wld be helpful if Dept cld inform me specifically whether in last analysis it would be willing to explore possibility of some arrangement yielding Libyan Govt any greater return than that contemplated by exchange of notes of December 24, 1951.2
- This telegram was repeated to Tripoli.↩
- Telegram 12 to Benghazi, Aug. 12, informed Villard that any change in the arrangements of Dec. 24, 1951 would probably require informal clearances with appropriate Congressional committee members, and the Department of State did not want to ask Defense to do that on a hypothetical basis. It reminded him that the amount that had been agreed on was reluctantly agreed to by other Departments, as well as the Department of State, as the maximum. (711.56373/8–752)↩